I dropped my reins in shock; I never drop my reins. In a sudden panic I grabbed for them as my horse began to move forward at the release in pressure. Out from a tunnel on the dais staggered Iesu; such a mass of carnage I had rarely seen in all of my days campaigning. He was literally soaked in blood from head to toe with a purple robe draped over His shoulders and a horrific mass of rose branches woven into a crown was jammed down upon His head. Instantly the crowd erupted into a frenzy like one I had never seen or heard before or since. This, my friends, was a true mob.
I checked my mount and drew my spatha; the infantry commander shouted, “Pila iace!”, and the infantry brought their javelins to bear for combat. Things were shaping up nicely. Pilate was shouting at the Chief Priest, and he, the Priest was responding, but I at the moment was so concerned with the crowd that I was distracted with exactly what was being said between the two of them. Pilate was becoming visibly agitated, I could tell by the tone of his voice; and he was not the type of person to cross. I heard him growl like a bear and turned to see him jump up out of the judgment seat, point to Iesu and shout, “Ecce Rex! Ecce Rex Judea!” Now was not the time to insult the Temple party- especially now, as it was instantly apparent that every member of the Temple party happened to be standing in front of him.
The mob literally exploded into the loudest, foulest, most disrespectful mass of humanity I had ever seen… and I have seen my share. Even my horse was un-nerved; and he was a seasoned combat veteran. Grown men began to act like possessed children, eyes bulging out, veins throbbing in their necks; they were all screaming “nostrum rex est Caesar!” This was a novelty which bespoke devilment- Temple Jews shouting Latin phrases: even one Latin word was enough to ritually defile them according to their priests, yet here they were shouting that they had no king but Caesar? Sin upon sin, some of them would say, yet here was a convenient dispensation in accordance to their present wishes.
The noise was indescribable, and it continued for quite awhile. Here and there scuffling broke out in the crowd, yet it was so thick nothing could be made of it. Once in a while someone in the mob would get pushed against the shield wall, and was rewarded with an animated prick from a pila. That kept them back for a good bit. Then to my horror, a chant was taken up; well modulated, loud and piercing, “Crucifigerent! Crucifigerent! Crucifigerent!” Crucify Him? Why? What has He done, but good and wonderful things? What is this madness?
I then saw something I never thought would occur. Pontius Pilate, the toughest, bravest, and hardest Roman I had ever met, started to turn a bit pale. He was a ruddy man when upset- and these were upsetting times- yet I could clearly see the color drain from his face. He turned and gestured to his side, and a lackey brought out a basin of water. He ritually washed his hands and as much as told the Priests that he was their obedient servant in this matter. A fine way to weasel out of a tight spot when principles would not do- many was the time when we in the Army would deride such a cowardly act: yet here was supposedly one of our finest, bowing and scraping like any political donkey-carrying the burden for the sake of a reward later on.
The die was cast.